Drugs from the forest

Approximately 10% of today’s drugs derive from tropical medicinal plants, including quinine, curare and a number of steroids. Three thousand plants have anti-cancer properties and 70% of these are to be found in tropical forests.
The medicinal plants living in wet forests include the Samambaia (Polypodium lepidopteris and the Polypodium decumanum), a fern that grows in the rainy forests of South-America and whose therapeutic properties reside in the rhizome and roots. In Amazonia, the Boras people use its leaves to treat cough, while others use the steeped rhizome to treat fever and root infusions to treat some kidney conditions. Traditional Brazilian medicine recognises the sudorific, antirheumatic, tonic, expectorant properties of Samambaia; it is used to treat bronchitis, cough and other respiratory conditions, while in Peru it is also used to treat infections of the urinary tract and many skin conditions.
The Amazonian Guarni and Tupi peoples call a plant, known as Pau d’Arco, “Tajy”, which means “to have strength and vigour”, used to treat malaria, anaemia, respiratory diseases, fever, infections, arteries and rheumatism and even snake bites. The Pau d’Arco is a large tree living in South-American rainforests which, from a botanical point of view, is called Tabebuia spp.

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